Since ice hockey is a full contact sport and body checks are allowed, injuries are a common occurrence. Protective equipment is mandatory and is enforced in all competitive situations. This includes a helmet (cage worn if certain age), shoulder pads, elbow pads, mouth guard, protective gloves, heavily padded shorts (also known as hockey pants), athletic cup, shin pads, skates, and (optionally) a neck protector. In addition, goaltenders use different gear, a neck guard, chest/arm protector, blocker, catch glove, and leg pads.
One important piece of equipment is the ice skate itself. Hockey skates are optimized for several factors, some of which increase the effort needed to achieve the highest skating speeds (see Racing Skates). Hockey skates are optimized for physical acceleration (maneuverability). This includes rapid starts, stops, turns, and changes in skating direction. In addition they must be rigid and tough to protect the skater's feet from contact with other skaters, sticks, pucks, the boards, and the ice itself. Rigidity also improves the overall maneuverability of the skate. Blade length, thickness (width), and curvature (rocker/radius (front to back) and radius of hollow (across the blade width) are quite different from speed or figure skates. Hockey players usually adjust these parameters based on their skill level, position, and body type.
Another important piece of equipment is the stick itself. It consists of long relatively wide and slightly curved flat blade, attached to a shaft. It is quite distinct from sticks in other sports games and most suited to hitting and controlling the flat puck. Its unique shape contributed to the early development of the game. The 'Moffat' stick is currently reputed to be the oldest hockey stick in existence. By retracing the stick's ownership through several generations of the Moffatt family, a settler clan that was farming outside of North Sydney by the early 1800s, Presley compiled considerable archival and other evidence that the object was probably used in early, shinny-like games of "hurley" at a popular skating site called Pottle Lake. It is typical of the 19th century style of stick used in the Irish game of hurling.
Read more about this topic: Ice Hockey
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